I believe that we all have stories that weave themselves forward and back over the course of our lives. One of my favorite parts of being a parent is helping my children to recognize their own stories and clarify the important lessons that reveal themselves in often unexpected ways.
The following story belonged to my son Owen who is now 11. I recently came across it while organizing my desktop and thought it was worth sharing.
Show Me Your Love
Wow, Mimi and Papa must really love me, Owen said as he sorted through the piles of games and toys he had just received for Channukah. They’re always bringing us presents and buying us things.
You’re right, said his mother, Mimi and Papa do love you and they give you lots of presents. But what other ways do they show their love?
Owen put down his toys and thought for a moment. Mimi’s always bringing us gum and candy. And Papa takes us for walks and bike rides.
Very good, said his mother. What about Nanna, how does she show you her love?
Nanna’s always celebrating holidays. She brings us advent calendars and helps us make gingerbread houses. And in the summer she lets us use her pool, even though we make a big mess.
You’re right, said his mother. All those things are very tiring. Nanna does so much for you and your cousins. Why do you think she does it?
She wants to make things special, guessed Owen. Yes, said his mother, that’s how she shows her love.
Come with me, said his mother. She crept over to the door and opened it to reveal Owen’s big sister doing her homework while singing to herself. How does Elena show her love? Love, said Owen, Elena can’t stand me. Don’t be silly, said his mother. When you were a baby Elena used to watch over your crib, waiting for you to wake up. Sometimes she’d crawl in with you because she couldn’t stand to wait any longer. Why? asked Owen. Because she wanted to be close to you, she still wants to be close to you, even when you ignore her. That’s how she shows her love.
Owen’s dog Puck was snoring on the rug. How about Puck, how does she show her love? That’s easy, said Owen. He bent down next to Puck and got a huge furry paw over his arm and a wet tongue across the cheek. She cuddles with me, he said, while wiping off his face.
Next came Claire and Natalie, Owen’s two little sisters, chasing one another up the stairs while screaming. Don’t even ask, said Owen, they’re both crazy. Yes, said his mother, crazy they are, but they love you too. Show me your arm, she said. Owen held up his arm to reveal a line of stamps and stickers, compliments of his sisters.
Just then the door opened. Owen’s father stomped in and didn’t look happy. Owen, I told you to bring your sports equipment inside. Now it’s raining and your new bat will be ruined. He slammed the door shut as went back out into the rain.
How does your father show his love, asked his mother. By yelling at me, said Owen with his voice cracking a bit. Well he does yell at you, but why does he do it? asked his mother. Because I never do anything right? No, that’s not it, said his mother. You do a lot of things right, but your Dad wants you to be your best and he knows you can take care of your things, that’s how he shows his love. Do you get it?
Owen nodded his head. He sort of got it.
You have so many people in your life who love you, said his mother, but they all show their love differently. Why do you think that is?
I don’t know, said Owen. Because they’re all different people, and different things make them happy?
How so? asked his mother.
Well, Nanna likes holidays, and Papa likes presents, and Elena likes to spend time with people. And Dad likes to take care of things. So maybe that’s why they like to do those things for me.
I think you’re right, said his mother.
Well what about you, said Owen. How do you show your love?
I help you understand how very loved you are, said his mother.
Because love is important to you?, asked Owen.
Yes, said his mother, love is very important to me….